Bellissimo. (Garrett Ellwood/NBA/Getty Images)
Just one week ago, Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari made one of this season's more ridiculous shots, a running, flailing, heading-out-of-bounds, end-of-the-shot-clock heave that splashed through for two during the third quarter of a Denver win over the Houston Rockets. Late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, though, the 24-year-old Italian outdid himself, sending the Pepsi Center crowd into hysterics, the Bucks careening toward defeat ... and, perhaps, many Coloradans toward making a Wednesday afternoon run for the border.
Our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute captured the shot in all its absurd glory:
Gallinari's shot wasn't the game-winner — Ty Lawson's jumper with 2:26 left put Denver up for good, and his layup at the 1:37 mark gave the Nuggets a 106-103 lead in a game that finished 112-104 for the home team. But it was, as Kalen Deremo wrote at Nuggets blog Roundball Mining Company, "the pinnacle of the Nuggets surge in the fourth quarter," adding some flourish to a 19-4 game-closing run that pushed Denver to its seventh straight win, its eighth in the last 10 and its 13th in the last 15.
It was also, as the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman noted, a deal-maker for the thousands in attendance on Tuesday:
The ball didn't bounce on the rim as much as it palpitated. It did so in rhythm with 15,272 heartbeats, as the Pepsi Center crowd watched this orange tease on the rim. And then?
"The fans loved it for the tacos, I think," Gallo said with a smile, in reference to the Taco Bell promotion if Denver scores 110 points in a game. "It was an important shot."
For sure. I mean, if not for Gallo making some ridiculous nonsense, how else would Denver denizens be able to get four tacos for $1 with the purchase of a large drink between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. today? That's basically the dictionary definition of important and a good deal, and not at all superfluous or potentially hazardous to Denver's collective digestive tract.
The real reason Gallinari's crazy layup mattered is that it drove a stake through the heart of a Bucks team that had stormed out of the gate with 66 first-half points behind 21 points on 10 for 11 shooting by, of all people, reserve center Samuel Dalembert, who obviously watched what LeBron James did on Monday night and thought, "Y'know, I could totally do that."
Unfortunately, none of the rest of the Bucks seemed capable of making a shot, allowing Denver to cut what had been a 17-point lead down to just seven heading into the fourth quarter, and the combination of dismal play from the Milwaukee backcourt (Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined to shoot 2 for 12 in the fourth), ramped-up perimeter defensive pressure from Denver (causing seven Milwaukee turnovers in the final quarter, leading to 12 Nuggets points) and some late-game artillery from Gallinari, Lawson and havoc-wreaker Corey Brewer (22 total points in the fourth, four more than Milwaukee's whole team, on just 10 shots) tilted the outcome.
Apparently, not even Sammy D scoring 35 points (eight more than his previous career high) and making 17 shots (four past his prior best) in just 27 minutes is enough to overcome sloppy guard play and bad fourth-quarter execution. Just more grist for the mill for a 25-22 Bucks team that, as Brew Hoop's Frank Madden put it, "just can't lose conventionally, can they?" Not when Denver's getting unconventional buckets from a certain 6-foot-10 Italian, anyway.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to view the make elsewhere, thanks to old pal @Jose3030.